Homelessness in the World’s Largest City Just Hit a Record Low

Homelessness in the World’s Largest City Just Hit a Record Low

Homelessness in the World’s Largest City Just Hit a Record Low


Why is there a massive discrepancy in rates of homelessness between New York City and Tokyo, the two most populated cities in the world? Could it be that Japan has a far more robust social safety net for its citizens?

The number of homeless residents in New York City, the largest city in the United States, reached a record high this month at more than 56,000 people. Halfway around the world, another metropolis recently hit a homeless record of its own: just 1,697 people are currently homeless in Tokyo, also its country’s largest city and the most populated city in the world, a record low since surveys began in 2002.



What’s even more surprising than the discrepancy in homeless populations between the two cities is the fact that Tokyo, at 13.4 million people, is larger than New York City (8.4 million people) and Los Angeles (3.9 million people) combined. While the rate of homelessness in New York is currently 67 for every 10,000 people, in Tokyo there is just one homeless individual for every 10,000 city residents.

Why the massive discrepancy in rates of homelessness between two of the most populous cities in the world?

As with most socioeconomic phenomena, there are a number of contributing factors. First and foremost, income inequality is a massive and growing problem in the United States, while Japan has historically had one of the lowest rates of inequality among developed countries. One principal measure of income inequality is the GINI coefficient, a measure from 0.0 (perfect equality) to 1.0 (perfect inequality). Recent surveys in the two countries found a GINI coefficient in Japan of 0.32, while in the US that rate was 0.41. However, income inequality can’t be the only explanation for Japan’s success combatting homelessness, especially considering that the country’s inequality index has actually worsened over the past few decades.

Where Japan is really surpassing the United States, instead, is in the social safety net it offers its citizens.

It begins with the Japanese Constitution, which unlike the U.S. version guarantees its citizens “the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.” As such, the country has a far more robust safety net than the United States.

Tokyo itself has been taking extra steps to fight homelessness. For instance, Hiroki Motoda, a government official in the city, pointed to the city’s temporary housing provision and employment training in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. He also said that the homeless population in Tokyo has been decreasing as it got older because, “Older homeless people tend to have health issues, and so they apply for social welfare. They stop living on the streets.”

Finally, another contributing factor is that Japanese tend to have a stronger support system from their families than in the United States, where individualism is prized. Though it is a difficult to quantify, the tradition of Japanese families remaining tight knit and supportive of each member is undeniable.

Of course, Japan is not superior to the United States in every aspect of homelessness, nor it is a perfectly fair comparison. There is far more cultural and racial diversity in the United States than in Japan, for instance. While homeless people in the United States face some barriers to voting, like obtaining photo identification in states that require it, the barriers are significantly steeper in Japan, where shelters and temporary accommodations cannot be used as an official place of residence when registering to vote. However, this does not change the fact that on a given night, more than 600,000 people are homeless in the United States; in Japan, that number is just 7,500. …


Reports Condemn Solitary Confinement in New York City´s Jails…

Reports Condemn Solitary Confinement in New York City´s Jails…

2600cfbfad1f68fc7449328b128e1d15Reports Condemn Solitary Confinement in New York City’s Jails, As Officials Weigh Its Future

November 6, 2013  By

rikers wireTwo recent reports provide a scathing picture of the how solitary confinement is employed as a routine disciplinary measure on Rikers Island and in other city jails. The reports are particularly critical of the use of extreme isolation and deprivation on individuals with psychological disabilities, including mentally ill teenagers.

The two reports were prepared for the Board of Correction (BOC), which functions as the oversight agency for the New York City jail system, ensuring that all city correctional facilities comply with minimum regulations of care. In recent months, under pressure from local activists, the BOC has been reconsidering the liberal use of solitary confinement in the city’s jails, and conducting fact-finding on the subject.

The first of two reports commissioned by the BOC was released in September 2013. Dr. James Gilligan and Dr. Bandy Lee authored the report, addressing the use of solitary confinement in the city’s jails.  This past June, Dr. Gilligan and Dr. Lee were asked to assess whether the city’s jails were in compliance with the current Mental Health Minimum Standards set forth by the Board of Correction.

On Rikers Island, which houses more than 10,000 of the 13,000 women, men and children in the city’s jails, 1 in every 10 people is in isolated confinement at any time.  Many are placed there for nonviolent offenses at the discretion of corrections officers.  This distinguishes New York as a city with one of the highest rates of prison isolation in the country–about double the national average.

The report’s findings are a resounding criticism of the current use of punitive segregation, and point both to violations of the Mental Health Minimum Standards as well as to practices within the jail system that are harmful to those who suffer from mental illness. The report’s authors point to snapshot data in which the number of people with mental illness in solitary confinement is almost double the number of those with mental illness in the jail population generally. The authors conclude that mentally ill people in the jail system are being disproportionately placed in solitary confinement.

The report also claims that the nation’s prisons and jails have become “de facto mental hospitals,” pointing to the fact that roughly 95% of people with mental illness who are currently institutionalized are in correctional facilities, while only 5% are in mental hospitals.

The Mental Health Minimum Standards mandate that mental healthcare be provided in a setting that is conducive to care and treatment. The report contends that prolonged use of solitary confinement for mentally ill people violates these Standards, because it has been used punitively, to create a stressful environment and to remove social contact, rather than to provide therapeutic services.

Moreover, the report holds that the Standards should be amended to emphasize that those with mental illness should not be held in segregation.  As the report states, “The goal of mental health treatment (and also of correctional practice) should be to do everything possible to foster, enhance and encourage the inmates’ ability to…behave in constructive and non-violent ways after they have returned to the community from jail.”

The city responded to the report with a point-by-point rejection of its findings, claiming that the principal conclusions drawn by Drs. Gilligan and Lee were based on an erroneous legal interpretation of the Mental Health Minimum Standards and that the report’s conclusions and further recommendations were unsupported by sufficient evidence. This response was put forth by a multiple agencies, including the Office of the Mayor, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Drs. Gilligan and Lee responded in turn, claiming that a strictly legal interpretation ignored the changing conditions of the current prison system as well as a misunderstanding of human psychology and behavior.  In order to reach a true understanding of the harm caused by punitive segregation, the authors say, we need to take into account the psychological effects of isolation, as well as the recent influx of people with mental illness into our prisons and jails.

One week after Drs. Gilligan and Lee published their report, the BOC voted unanimously to begin rulemaking to limit the use of solitary confinement in New York City.

These events follow a meeting held in June, in which the Board of Correction voted against limiting solitary confinement in the city’s jails, rejecting a petition put forth by the grassroots group known as the Jails Action Committee (JAC). The petition, if it had been accepted, would have limited solitary confinement as a last resort punishment for violent behavior only, and banned it entirely for children, young adults, and those with mental and physical disabilities.

BOC member Dr. Robert Cohen, a Manhattan physician and expert on prison health and mental health care, vocally supported JAC’s petition. At this June meeting, he called the use of solitary “dangerous,” especially for people with mental illness and adolescents, who are confined in punitive segregation at particularly high rates.  “During the past three years,” he pointed out, ”the percentage of prisoners languishing in solitary confinement has increased dramatically, without benefit in terms of decreased violence or increased safety on Rikers Island,” either for corrections officers or the prisoners themselves.

Dr. Cohen’s statement rings especially true after the release of the most recent BOC report in October, one month after the first report was published. Providing new information about the suffering of mentally ill youth placed in solitary confinement, the report describes the experiences of three adolescent boys at Rikers Island, each held in punitive segregation for more than 200 days, each suffering from mental illness. Youth and adolescents are among the most vulnerable populations in New York’s jail system; the report makes clear, however, that segregating mentally ill youth as a form of punishment is both negligent and dangerous.  The city has yet to respond to this latest criticism of solitary confinement.

The consequences of time spent in solitary confinement are lengthy and harmful, Cohen and other experts say; they include negative effects on mental health, including severe depression, anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and panic attacks. Furthermore, studies have shown that common patterns of depression, anxiety, anger, and suicidal thoughts often leave individuals more prone to unstable and violent behavior, which can in turn lead to higher rates of recidivism.

Thank You to:  http://solitarywatch.com/2013/11/06/reports-condemn-abuse-solitary-confinement-new-york-citys-jails-officials-weigh-future/

Appeals Court Blocks NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Ruling

Appeals Court Blocks NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Ruling

Appeals Court Blocks NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Ruling

By Nicole Flatow

A federal appeals court halted implementation Thursday of the landmark ruling that invalidated parts of the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program. After months of testimony from more than 100 witnesses in a class action challenge, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin held in August that the police department engaged in unconstitutional racial profiling, and ordered federal oversight.

The appeals court did not rule on the merits of the case, but said the ruling would remain on hold while it reviewed the appeal in the case. Significantly, the court also removed Scheindlin from the case, finding that she had violated ethics rules by suggesting to lawyers that this sort of lawsuit be filed, and speaking publicly to the media about the case.

Scheindlin authored an exhaustive opinion that found the NYPD effectively set quotas for stops and arrests, called black and Hispanic men “the right people” for the purpose of stops, that the NYPD disproportionately stopped young blacks and Latinos even when accounting for crime statistics, and that even the NYPD’s low success rate — 6 percent — is likely inflated by questionable arrests for marijuana.

Another judge will handle the case going forward, which will become more significant if the appeals court overturns the ruling and remands it to the district court for review.

According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the plaintiffs in this case, the appeals panel opted to remove Judge Scheindlin even though the City of New York did not request that they do so, nor raise “any claims of legal bias” by Scheindlin.

This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/appeals-court-blocks-nypd-stop-and-frisk-ruling-1383490718. All rights are reserved.

“I spent more than five years of my sentence in “the box” for trivial violations.

“I spent more than five years of my sentence in “the box” for trivial violations.

Solitary confinement’s invisible scars

I spent more than five years of my sentence in ‘the box’, for trivial violations. It’s time we saw this casual abuse for what it is: torture

As kids, many of us imagine having superpowers. An avid comic book reader, I often imagined being invisible. I never thought I would actually experience it, but I did.

It wasn’t in a parallel universe – although it often felt that way – but right here in the Empire State, my home. While serving time in New York‘s prisons, I spent 2,054 days in solitary and other forms of isolated confinement, out of sight and invisible to other human beings – and eventually, even to myself.

After only a short time in solitary, I felt all of my senses begin to diminish. There was nothing to see but gray walls. In New York’s so-called special housing units, or SHUs, most cells have solid steel doors, and many do not have windows. You cannot even tape up pictures or photographs; they must be kept in an envelope. To fight the blankness, I counted bricks and measured the walls. I stared obsessively at the bolts on the door to my cell.

There was nothing to hear except empty, echoing voices from other parts of the prison. I was so lonely that I hallucinated words coming out of the wind. They sounded like whispers. Sometimes, I smelled the paint on the wall, but more often, I just smelled myself, revolted by my own scent.

There was no touch. My food was pushed through a slot. Doors were activated by buzzers, even the one that led to a literal cage directly outside of my cell for one hour per day of “recreation”.

Even time had no meaning in the SHU. The lights were kept on for 24 hours. I often found myself wondering if an event I was recollecting had happened that morning or days before. I talked to myself. I began to get scared that the guards would come in and kill me and leave me hanging in the cell. Who would know if something happened to me? Just as I was invisible, so was the space I inhabited.

The very essence of life, I came to learn during those seemingly endless days, is human contact, and the affirmation of existence that comes with it. Losing that contact, you lose your sense of identity. You become nothing.

Everyone knows that prison is supposed to take away your freedom. But solitary doesn’t just confine your body; it kills your soul.

Yet neither a judge nor a jury of my peers handed down this sentence to me. Each of the tormented 23 hours per day that I spent in a bathroom-sized room, without any contact with the outside world, was determined by prison staff.

Anyone lacking familiarity with our state prison system would probably guess I must have been a pretty scary, out-of-control prisoner. But I never committed one act of violence during my entire sentence. Instead, a series of “tickets”, or disciplinary write-ups for prison rule violations, were punished with a total of more than five years in “the box”.

In New York, guards give out tickets like penny candy. During my nine years in prison, I received an endless stream of tickets, each one more absurd than the last. When I tried to use artwork to stay sane, I was ticketed for having too many pencils. Another time, I had too many postage stamps.

One day, I ate an entire apple – including the core – because I was starving for lack of nutrition. I received a ticket for eating the core, since apple seeds contain arsenic, as spelled out in the prison handbook. The next time I received an apple, fearful of another ticket, I simply left it on the tray. I received a ticket for “refusing to eat”.

For the five years I spent in the box, I received insulin shots for my diabetes by extending my arm through the food slot in the cell’s door. (“Therapy” for prisoners with mental illness is often conducted this way, as well.) One day, the person who gave me the shot yanked roughly on my arm through the small opening and I instinctively pulled back. This earned me another ticket for “refusing medical attention”, adding additional time to my solitary sentence.

My case is far from unusual. A 2012 study by the New York Civil Liberties Union found that five out of six of the 13,000 SHU sentences handed out each year are for nonviolent misbehavior, rather than violent acts. This brutal approach to discipline means that New York isolates its prisoners at rates well above the national average.

On any given day, some 4,300 men, women, and children are in isolated confinement in the state, many for months or years. Those with more serious prison offenses have been held in solitary for 20 years or more.

Using this form of punishment is particularly absurd for minor rule infractions. But in truth, no one should be subjected to the kind of extreme isolation that is practiced in New York’s prisons today. I have no doubt that what is going on in prisons all over our state is torture. Many national and international human rights groups – including UN special rapporteur on torture Juan E Méndez – concur. Yet it continues, unseen and largely ignored by the public.

The scars that isolated confinement leaves behind may be invisible, too, but they are no less painful or permanent than physical scars. Even now that I am out of prison, I suffer major psychological consequences from those years in isolation.

I know that I have irreparable memory damage. I can hardly sleep. I have a short temper. I do not like people to touch me. I cannot listen to music or watch television or sports. I am only beginning to recover my ability to talk on the phone. I no longer feel connected to people.

Even though I am a free man now, I often feel as though I remain invisible, going through the motions of life. Feeling tormented by a punishment that has ended is a strange and unnerving anguish. But there are thousands like me, and until New Yorkers choose to bear witness to the soul-destroying torture taking place in their own backyards, our suffering, too, will remain invisible.



www.childreninshadow.wordpress.com  or www.childreninprison.wordpress.com Thank You!

Shopping While Black Can Lead to Arrest in New York City

Shopping While Black Can Lead to Arrest in New York City

Shopping While Black Can Lead to Arrest in New York  City

Shopping While Black Can Lead to Arrest in New York City

Add “buying pricey stuff” to the list of things New York City cops punish  blacks for doing.

In two separate incidents, black Barneys shoppers were stopped by police and  grilled about the source of the money they spent at the expensive store. The  cops seemed to believe that black people couldn’t afford to shop at Barneys and  must have committed fraud to do so.

The first victim was Kayla Phillips, a 21-year-old who put her  tax refund to use at the end of February to buy a $2,500 orange suede purse from  Barneys. “I had been looking for that purse in that color for a long time, and  it was always out of stock,” she said. When she found it she snapped it up,  paying with a debit card.

Four plainclothes cops (four?!!) stalked her to a subway station where they  publicly humiliated her, interrogating her for 20 minutes. “Two of them  attacked me and pushed me against a wall, and the other two appeared in front of  me, blocking the turnstile,” Phillips, who was pregnant at the time, remembers.  She said they were “very rough.”

Next up was Trayon Christian, who bought a $349  Ferragamo belt he had long coveted. Christian, 19, is an engineering student  with a job. When he got his paycheck at the end of last April he went to buy the  reversible, silver-buckled belt. He used his own debit card, and, when the  Barneys clerk asked him to show ID, he did.

He hadn’t gotten far from the store — about a block — when two undercover New  York City police detectives stopped him and accused him of using a fake debit  card. Christian told The New York Daily News that  the “detectives were asking me, ‘How could you afford a belt like this?  Where did you get this money from?’”

Christian says the cops handcuffed him, took him to a police station, and  left him in a holding cell for two hours. When they finally let him go, they  apologized.

Disgusted with Barneys, Christian returned his belt. “I’m not shopping there  again,” he said. “It’s racist.” The police who arrested him said that Barneys  had alerted them about Christian’s purchase. A store security guard told  Phillips’ mother that undercover cops routinely patrol inside the store to watch  for fraudulent purchases, which happen there about once a week. Barneys denies  involvement in the harassment of its black customers.

Christian and Phillips are both suing the city and Barneys.

The $349 belt and the $2,500 purse — and indeed anything Barney sells — stand  for something. In our materialistic culture, owning objects is seen as proof of  merit, whether by talent, intelligence, diligence or good looks. Barneys quotes  Sarah Jessica Parker on its website: “If you’re a nice person and you  work hard, you get to go shopping at Barneys. It’s the decadent reward.”

Punishing shoppers for buying things and doubting their ability to afford the  items is a way of saying those people don’t deserve their purchases.

By stopping, harassing and arresting black people who spend money, the city  is policing both racial divides and social class distinctions. An exclusive  designer purse is a status symbol that tells the world, “I have money!” It seems  that, when the person carrying the bag is black, New York’s police department  either doesn’t believe that message, or wishes it weren’t true. Staking out  Barneys is a way to limit conspicuous consumption by blacks and reinforce the  idea that they haven’t earned the right to own expensive things.

These cops have the potential to make the upcoming holiday shopping frenzy  even more unpleasant than usual.

Please sign our petition urging the NYPD to stop the unacceptable  practice of racial profiling.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/shopping-while-black-can-lead-to-arrest-in-new-york-city.html#ixzz2iqPXCcJ9

Pushed Out by Penthouses: The Gentrification of Downtown Brooklyn

Pushed Out by Penthouses: The Gentrification of Downtown Brooklyn

English: Graffiti created by Yoshitomo Nara at...
English: Graffiti created by Yoshitomo Nara at Niagara Bar, 112 Ave. A, New York, NY, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Creative Time Reports

Pushed Out by Penthouses: The Gentrification of Downtown Brooklyn

October 21, 2013

This episode of Forms of Life, with Kelly Anderson, is part of Creative Time Reports’  Summit Series, which features articles related to the theme of the 2013 Creative Time Summit: Art, Place & Dislocation in the 21st Century City (which can be viewed via Livestream on October 25

Please, watch & hear this: http://creativetimereports.org/2013/10/21/my-brooklyn-with-kelly-anderson/?

Police Throw Man in Jail After Mistaking Jolly Ranchers for Crystal Meth

Police Throw Man in Jail After Mistaking Jolly Ranchers for Crystal Meth

An assortment of Jolly Rancher candies
An assortment of Jolly Rancher candies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Police Throw Man in Jail After Mistaking Jolly Ranchers for Crystal Meth

Gawker.com wrote his Name: Love Olatunjiojo

Drug War inspired police work at its best.

October 21, 2013  |

For any New Yorker that still needs convincing of how essential stop-and-frisk tactics are to keeping them safe, some intrepid NYPD police work has taken hard candies off the street.

According to a lawsuit brought against the NYPD by Love Olatunjiojo, police arrested and held the 25-year-old man for 24 hours after mistaking Jolly Ranchers for crystal meth, reports the New York Daily News. Olatunjiojo and a friend had just made the purchase — at the It’Sugar candy emporium in Brooklyn — when police approached and searched the two men. According to the complaint, obtained by the  Smoking Gun, “Finding only candy, including the Jolly Rancher candy mentioned, the officers repeatedly searched Plaintiff and told him “it was only a matter of time before they found something.'”…

Read whole article here, please:


Love Olatunjiojo says he and two friends had just purchased the sweets at the Coney Island candy megastore It’Sugar and were walking away when they were stopped by Officer… watch Gawker.com